Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Amy Wilson

I’m a first year SLIS student, and am returning to school after taking a year off since my undergraduate program. I attended Saint Michael’s College and earned a B.A. in English and Religious Studies, and for the past year I have been working at a law firm in records management. I am continuing to work full time while I take classes at night. I live in Somerville and in my free time I like to rock climb and play with Legos. At Simmons, I am part of the Information Technology concentration, and I’m hoping to eventually work in Special Libraries!



Entries by Amy Wilson

  • SLA Conference 2016

    I’m home! It’s been a week and a half, but I still feel like I’m getting back on my feet after a month of traveling – Puerto Rico (for fun), Ohio (for work), and Philadelphia (for school). Most recently, I was in Philly for the Special Libraries Association 2016 Conference. My boyfriend and I took advantage of the location to also stay with family outside the city, and we got to meet their new (four months old is new, right?) baby! We drove to Philly on Friday (June 10) night after work and arrived in the suburbs at about 11:30pm. On Saturday we took a bus tour of the city with Rob’s cousins and had a nice dinner with them – there was a lot of chilling out because it was so hot and muggy! On Sunday, after lunch, Rob headed home to Boston and I went to the conference downtown. Because of my stipend from SLA New England, I was able to get a rental car, which allowed me to drive in and out…

  • Summer Semester and SLA

    I’ve had a short break since my spring term, and now I’m getting ready for my online summer class, ‘Competitive Intelligence.’ In the last few weeks I have been busy with work, but I did fit in a quick vacation to Puerto Rico!  Enjoying a coconut on the beach  Zip-lining in the rainforest with kittens Based on what I’ve seen of the syllabus, Competitive Intelligence going to be intense. There’s a lot of reading, plus we will have weekly virtual meetings on Monday nights. On those evenings, I plan to stay at work late and call in from my office, since I won’t make it home for our 6pm start time.  This week, I’m getting ready for another trip, to the Special Libraries Association’s Summer 2016 Conference in Philadelphia! We are lucky enough to have family in the area, so we will stay with them. Our plan (for Rob and me) is to drive down Friday after work; he is driving home Sunday, and I will fly home Tuesday. The conference is only from Sunday…

  • Boston By Foot

    One of my goals for 2016 was, as soon as the weather was nice enough, I would walk to work. From my house, it’s only 2.7 miles, which takes me about an hour. Normally, if I am taking public transit, I need to leave by 8:15 to ge to work for 9am; walking the same route only adds 15-20 minutes to my commute (which doesn’t say much for our transit system). One of the top women runners at the Marathon Attending the Boston Marathon on Monday inspired me to step it up (pun intended). After the marathon, I walked to Simmons to do some homework. Unfortunately, the computer lab was closed, so then I decided to walk home across the Charles (I live in somerville). My 3.5 miles was definitely no marathon, but I felt proud of myself because normally it wouldn’t even corss my mind to walk.  View after crossing the Charles I think it’s easy to forget what a small city Boston is when you take public transit, because it can take so…

  • Spring Days/Planning for Fall

    I had been putting off writing a post this week because I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to say. It was a pretty quiet week – my boyfriend came home from a business trip on Tuesday, and he left again this morning, so we really just squeezed in as much time together as was possible. We went to see a bluegrass band on Tuesday night with some friends, went out to an early breakfast together Wednesday morning at our favorite restaurant, and yesterday (Saturday) we planted our backyard garden.   Baby Romaines!  I am going to make some hanging signs for these old white chair backs that say “flowers” and “veggies.” In school related news, I registered for my Fall 2016 classes this week (already?!). I also had to plan my financial aid from now until the end of my program because of the way my schedule will work out. I will only take one class in my last semester (fall 2017) which means I won’t meet the minimum attendance requirement (part time/two classes)…

  • Accessing the Potential of Graduate Students

    Yesterday I attended a conference that was jointly hosted by LLNE and ABLL at Northeastern University School of Law. The focus of the conference was “Access to Government Information,” but I noticed a second theme throughout the day: strong partnerships. The LLNE/ABLL spring conference was my first as a graduate student, and my strongest take-away from the day has to be the power of strong partnerships to produce successful results. The conference itself was obviously a collaboration of LLNE and ABLL, but this theme also came up consistently during the day’s events. I think that the most important step in forming a strong and healthy partnership is to recognize one’s own limits, and then to identify how the other party’s strengths can fill the gap. We heard an example of this strategy from Dan Jackson from the NuLawLab when he described his partnership with game designers and law librarians to build a game for self-representative litigants. Susan Drisko Zago also spoke about aligning law librarians with public librarians to serve rural populations in northern New Hampshire. Beryl Lipton and Pam Wilmot shared…

  • Beating The Bug

    Most of my week was unfortunately consumed by a stomach bug, and I didn’t make it back to work until Thursday morning. Is there anything more frustrating than wasting PTO to be sick? I spent many hours on the couch and felt so miserable that I couldn’t even get ahead on homework. Instead, I watched/dozed through a lot of Jane Austen movies, including Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Becoming Jane, and Mansfield Park. I also got really sick of toast and applesauce. By Wednesday, when I still wasn’t well again, I was starting to freak out because I had presentations in both my classes this week; Wednesday was my individual presentation on a legal research database, and Thursday was a group presentation on reference in special libraries. Luckily I’m not a procrastinator so all my research/design was done, but I knew that there was no way I could make it to campus on Wednesday night.Google to the Rescue: Channeling my inner Rob, I started searching for technological solutions. I quickly found a Chrome plugin called Snagit that would…

  • Very Special Libraries

    Last week, while most of Simmons was on spring break, I was on campus every day from 9am until about 3pm. I took the week off of work in order to complete a 5-day, 3-credit course with SLIS legend, Jim Matarazzo. Jim has worked in corporate libraries for decades, and he is the original social networker. I’m pretty sure you could ask about any major company and he will tell you the history of their corporate library and name two contacts there. This class was heavily career focused, extremely practical… and wicked fun! Our assignments for the week included two papers and two (group) presentations. We looked at a set of corporate libraries that had closed and another set that were “successful,” then evaluated how corporate libraries can survive and thrive. We also each summarized a chapter from the textbook (which Jim co-authored).  My favorite day of the week was Tuesday, when we did our site visits. We started at the New England School of Law, whose library has an impressive reference staff and a very cozy study space….

  • Subversive Librarians and Magic Spells

    Last night, my Legal Information Services class went to Northeastern University’s law library, where both of my professors work. Northeastern’s wifi is really restrictive, so we had no access to the catalog and were totally reliant on print sources. We took a tour of the library (and had to remember where the books were located), then were let loose with a list of questions to answer. Finding information in legal print resources is very time consuming – the index is your best friend – but also satisfying, like a scavenger hunt… a scavenger hunt that I would not enjoy in the context of actual research. After that assignment, (are you ready for the Harry Potter reference?) I’ve realized how totally crazy it is that students at Hogwarts had to do this completely the old-fashioned way. No wonder it took Harry, Ron, and Hermione four months to find a reference to Nicholas Flamel in The Sorcerer’s Stone. WHY didn’t anyone in this magical world create a control-F spell? And my bigger issue – why didn’t JK Rowling create a cooler librarian?? Madame…

  • The Dictionary of Imaginary Places: an Annotation

    As promised, this week I am posting my assignment from last week: my reference annotation from my 407 class. I don’t make it a habit to post assignments because I think it’s kind of unoriginal, but I think when you read about this reference source, you’ll understand why I am sharing. This book, The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, is fun to read and fun to write about. I’ve written a long and a short annotation below. Find out more about annotations at Purdue OWL. (the long version) This 755 page paperback volume from Harcourt Publishing is a travel guide for the imaginative reader. The original text, published in 1980, was followed by an expanded paperback run in 1987; this critically acclaimed third edition has been, according to the authors Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi, co-authored by their readers’ submissions. Illustrators Graham Greenfield, Eric Beddows, and James Cook have created 150 maps and 100 illustrations to accompany the 1000 plus text entries. The book includes an original foreword and an authors’ note for this edition. The authors explain…

  • Making a Statement

    This month, I have prioritized getting scholarship applications out for next year. I had deadlines of March 1 for the American Library Association and April 1 for the Association of American Law Libraries. I decided to do it all at once because I know that I am only going to get busier from here. Below, I am posting an abridged version of the essay that I submitted to AALL. That essay was allowed to be longer because they also wanted to know about my financial status. The version that I submitted to the ALA was limited to less than 300 words. Editing it down was great practice for an assignment that I had this week in my reference course. We had to create an “annotation” for a print reference source; I chose “The Dictionary of Imaginary Places” and had a lot of fun writing it (stay tuned next week for that)! Anyway, here is my personal statement: When I was an undergraduate, the most influential classroom of my education was a small, sunny office near the reference section of…

  • This week in 3D printing adventures…

    Last Tuesday, I hosted a lunch event at my law firm as part of our “Innovation TED Talk Series.” I’m on my Information Services department’s Innovation Board, and one of our most successful “ideas” has been this series of lunchtime sessions, where we view a TED talk and then discuss it as a group. Even though we have the capability to have meetings with multiple cities, we have kept this at the local office level because it has been very nice to just have a discussion with people that you might cross paths with in the kitchen but never really have an opportunity to talk with. It’s also a venue for people to brainstorm and share ideas generally. After the first talk, I also campaigned to have these kind of events count toward our department-wide annually required professional development training. This quarter, our talk was “Where Good Ideas Come From,” a 2010 presentation by Steven Johnson that examines what kinds of spaces and environments lead to innovation (if you have 18 minutes, it is worth…

  • 300 Words or Less

    This was the first week back to class and I am really looking forward to this very career-focused semester. As I have mentioned before, I want to go into legal librarianship. My classes this semester include: Wednesdays – Legal Information ServicesThursdays – Information Sources and Services& Spring Break (five full days) – Special Libraries I can already tell that this is going to be a lot of work, but I am going to throw myself into it because everything I learn is going to be directly applicable in a career. Even my Information Sources and Services course (also known as Reference) is going to be highly focused. I was worried that the broad nature of the topic would mean most of it wouldn’t relate to my career; however, Professor Froggatt made it very clear from the first night that she wants us to find our focus and use it as a lens in the class. This morning our group presentation sign-ups opened at 8am, and I set an alarm to make sure that I could get into the Special Libraries…

  • One Semester Down

    Two days – this is all that stands between me and my last assignment this semester. Technically, my last class is next Tuesday, December 15, when half my classmates in my Information Organization class will present their research on an LIS topic. My group is presenting in this first week, so my only job for next Tuesday is to listen and bring a snack. I think I can handle that. Finishing this first semester is a little surreal. A year ago, I had no intentions to apply to Simmons, and here I am one sixth of the way through my program. Last Thursday I turned in my eleven page literature review for my Foundations class. My focus was the information behavior of lawyers, and it really gave me a new respect for my colleagues on the legal team at my work. Ultimately, I found that there are really two levels of information seeking in legal work; first, there is basic legal research, and second, there is a more complicated process of finding the solutions within that information…

  • Librarianship as Emotional Labor

    This post is a little different from my previous ones – basically, I want to gather my thoughts on a topic that I recently read about. Rose Hackman wrote an article earlier this month for The Guardian, arguing that emotional labor is the next frontier of feminism. Emotional labor refers to the type of work that count on “service with a smile,” and historically there has been a “positive bias” toward women in these roles. Hackman also argues that it is work that is not accounted for in wages. “The way I think of emotional labor goes as follows: there are certain jobs where it’s a requirement, where there is no training provided, and where there’s a positive bias towards certain people – women – doing it. It’s also the kind of work that is denigrated by society at large.” The article does not mention librarianship, but I immediately thought of this profession, especially as it evolves away from the “shushing librarian” image and more toward positive user service interactions. Librarianship is an industry of knowledge,…

  • Pickles and PhDs

    As I approach the end of this semester (my final assignments are due 12/3 and 12/8) I am feeling an increasing sense of urgency, but also a feeling of confidence. Part of this is likely due to the fact that I have a whole weekend ahead of me with no plans, except making pickles. I’ve never pickled anything so it should be an interesting journey. Anyway, it will be nice to make some real progress on my research this weekend. Last night I indulged in a night of crafting, Gilmore Girls, and no homework. I stitched initials onto some Christmas stockings that I bought for our apartment, and then started making a hat for my boyfriend. I learned how to knit from my old bosses in my job at the Saint Michael’s College library, Kristen and Naomi. It’s an unspoken law that librarians must learn to knit. I also have a cat, so I can check off that box too. Last weekend I came very close to being the owner of two cats, when I…

  • Temporary Disturbances in the Force

    Hello there! I’ve had trouble finding time to write recently because work has been incredibly busy. I like my job for many reasons, one being that my firm offers great benefits, like sabbaticals every 10 years; however, in the last two weeks, one coworker’s sabbatical overlapped with another person’s honeymoon. Doing the job of three specialists has made me feel like a battle droid running around with its head cut off. This week, one of my coworkers is back, so things have quieted down a bit. Finding time to celebrate Halloween!   I have definitely started to find a healthy balance when it comes to school work, and my last few assignments have come back with high marks. I felt confident enough, when I registered for classes next semester, to sign up for 9 credits instead of 6 – kind of. It will work like this: during spring break in March my adviser, Jim Matarazzo, is teaching a week long class called “Special Libraries,” which is 3 credits like any other course, but meets from…

  • A Devotion to Knowledge

    This post is for anyone who may be worried about their undergraduate programs being (or seeming) totally unrelated to a master’s program. I came into the SLIS program feeling a little bit of this anxiety, which lived next door to my fears about having been away from any school for a year. I have adjusted without too much difficulty, and I think this last year has been invaluable in terms of gaining some real perspective. In May 2014, I graduated from Saint Michael’s College (VT) with a double BA in English and Religious Studies. After those four years of liberal arts, I appreciate a healthy dose of critical self-reflection. I have recently been trying to imagine a rough intellectual trajectory to rationalize how I came to my present studies in LIS – in fact, this question is part of why I started this blog. The English piece of my B.A. degree makes sense (books, right?), but how do I bridge my past studies in religion to my present work in LIS? My answer arrived in…

  • Shifting Focus

    As a SLIS student at Simmons, there is a big deadline for two important items. One is finishing the TOR (Technology Orientation Requirement) and the other is to complete your first advising session. I finished the TOR before the semester started and this past week I completed the second task with my adviser, Jim Matarazzo. What a wealth of knowledge that man is! Connecting with him was a bit of a circuitous route of self-discovery (through another advisor, the registrar’s office, our Assistant Dean Em Claire Knowles, and finally Jim) and by the end of all these conversations, I had changed my concentration and found my voice. Choosing classes meant that I had to make a decision about where I wanted to take them – online or on-campus? This semester both of my classes have been on-campus, and it is definitely a lot of work to run back and forth; however, I still think it’s worth it for me. I absolutely see that online learning could be useful for someone who has social anxiety, or lives…

  • Building Foundations

    We are a few weeks into the semester, so it seems like a good time to reflect. Making it Work This is probably a good time to talk about my workload and plans for time management. I have chosen to take two classes each semester, and attend during each of the spring, fall, and summer terms. That should allow me to finish the required 36 credits (two 3-credit courses per semester) in two years (six semesters). I’m pacing myself this way because I also work 37.5 hours a week (9 to 5:30) at a law firm in downtown Boston, in the records management department. This semester, I am taking classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-8:50pm, and my boss has agreed to let me leave at 5pm on those days so that I can make it to Simmons on time. As the semester goes on, I will learn how to balance my homework and spread it out through the week. My professors also have listed the entire semester’s readings on their syllabuses, in case I want…

  • Orientation Day

    Taking the train from Lechmere to Simmons A few weeks ago, I took the day off work to go to Simmons’ campus for the SLIS Orientation. It was a really exciting day, and I came away questioning all my choices (in the best way) and wondering how I will ever learn all those acronyms. Luckily, at the end of the day I had an hour bus ride to New Hampshire to mull things over. Orientation Lesson One: I arrived at Orientation early, because (1) it’s what Hermione would do, and (2) I needed to stop by the Registrar. I still have undergraduate loans, so I have been trying to get those all set before I begin paying interest on my un-subsidized graduate loans (un-subsidized means that interest accrues while I am in school). My undergraduate loans are subsidized and Perkins (both Federal), so you’d think it would be simple, but the loan websites are not very clear on how to defer payments – many forms and little instruction. Until Leslie Knope becomes President, this is…

  • Welcome!

    I’m Amy, a first semester student at Simmons School of Library and Information Science. I live in Somerville and work full time at a law firm, in addition to attending evening classes. In the past year and a half, my life has changed in many ways. It began last winter, when I very hastily applied to Simmons School of Library and Information Science. This is not to say that my decision was hasty, only that the process went very quickly. I had been sitting on the decision for a long time, and realized in the middle of January that if I applied by February 1, I would qualify for a scholarship. I had told people all along that I was thinking about it, but honestly, I wasn’t. I was enjoying my life as a non-student and didn’t feel any rush; however I also realized that if I didn’t make up my mind, another year could slip away. I knew that my deposit wouldn’t be due until May, and there was no harm in applying while I…